Friday 18 October 2019
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Stir occasionally!

HOLLYWOOD – The Shining might not be the best horror movie in the world; it might not even be the best horror movie Stanley Kubrick made (that would be Dr Strangelove), but with its maze like structure and multivalent architecture it has provided obsessives with material for countless conspiracy theories and madly hyper-rational interpretations.
A recent documentary Room 237 (directed by Rodney Ascher) unpicks the loopiest and explores the best, from the holocaust (the suitcases) to genocide of the native American Indians (cans of freshly sliced Indian clearly visible in the larder scene).  However, the film makers have missed the overarching rationale and the inspiration for the whole film. Within Kubrick’s epic poem to snow, isolation and blood glutted elevators, there lies the recipe for the perfect risotto.

Albert Haneke – chair of Shineology at Berkley University, California – argues that Kubrick was an avid fan of Italian cooking and placed a recipe in many of his films, but The Shining has the best and most delicious.

It’s a mushroom risotto, wild mushroom, and the instructions are very precise. The first half of the film represents the preparation of the stock and the second half, as the temperature rises, is the cooking. There are even serving suggestions. 

Here are some of the clues for the risotto which Dr. Haneke tells us is delicious, although the full recipe remains a closely guarded secret.

  • The recipe involves crushing the garlic rather than slicing it. ‘[I’m not going to slice the garlic cloves, I’m] Gonna bash ’em right the fuck in! ha ha ha.’
  • For extra flavor add a little ‘Redrum. Redrum. Redrum.’ to the stock.
  • If you pick the wrong mushrooms, then you get Room 237 like experiences. 
  • The risotto is what Dr. Haneke calls ‘The structuring absence’ of the film. So for instance, in the larder the cook Dick Hallorann mentions all the things you shouldn’t put in the risotto: ‘We’ve got canned fruits and vegetables, canned fish and meats, hot and cold syrups, Post Toasties, Corn Flakes, Sugar Puffs, Rice Krispies, Oatmeal… and Cream of Wheat. You got… (How’d you like some ice cream, Doc?) a dozen jugs of black molasses, we got sixty boxes of dried milk, thirty twelve-pound bags of sugar… Now we got dried peaches, dried apricots, dried raisins and dried prunes. You know Mrs. Torrance, you got to keep regular, if you want to be happy!’ 
  • and finally a drinks suggestion care of Delbert Grady: ‘I’ll just set my bourbon and advocaat down right there.
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